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Kavanaugh would cement far-right agenda

July 15, 2018

Be prepared for a festival of hypocrisy, evasion and misdirection from supporters of the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Begin with the idea that because Kavanaugh is qualified, well-educated, intelligent and likable, senators should fall in line behind him.

Sorry, but Senate Republicans already have demonstrated none of these characteristics matters. If they did, Judge Merrick Garland would be a Supreme Court justice. In blocking Garland, conservatives made clear personal and professional qualities have nothing to do with confirmation battles. They’re raw battles for power.

Everything we know about Kavanaugh demonstrates he would cement a right-wing majority on the court on social issues as well as regulatory and economic questions. That’s why he was picked. The environment, gun safety and health care are all at stake. So are civil, voting and labor rights.

Progressives are told they should get over the shameful treatment of Garland. What an astonishing exercise in hypocrisy from conservatives who have been reliving the defeat of Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court for 31 years. And unlike Garland, Bork got a hearing and a vote.

Kavanaugh will try to duck questions on Roe v. Wade, new challenges to the Affordable Care Act and President Donald Trump’s efforts to escape the investigation of Russian influence on our election. His defenders will pretend that his ideology is not a legitimate matter for senatorial examination.

Kavanaugh’s champions can’t have it both ways — and neither can Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, or Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who are supporters of abortion rights. Kavanaugh can’t simultaneously be un-squishy on abortion for Trump and supposedly squishy enough for Collins and Murkowski.

Don’t count on the good judge to help us unravel these mysteries. Kavanaugh kicked off his confirmation campaign with a statement that lacked all credibility. “No president,” he said, “has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.”

Good grief! Trump’s list of potential appointees was formulated in consultation with right-wing groups, period. Remember Kavanaugh’s wholly unnecessary whopper when he addresses other subjects.

And given the president who named him is facing legal scrutiny, the would-be justice’s sweeping views about presidential immunity are highly relevant to whether he should be put in a position to adjudicate Trump’s future.

Kavanaugh can’t be let off the hook just because his now widely read 2009 Minnesota Law Review article suggested presidents should be protected by congressional action, not the courts. Nowhere does he say explicitly the courts couldn’t act. His only statement on the matter is the Supreme Court’s decision in Clinton v. Jones requiring former President Bill Clinton to testify in a civil lawsuit “may well have been entirely correct.” Hmm. That “may well have been” is one heck of a verbal loophole.

“The indictment and trial of a sitting president, moreover, would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas. ... Even the lesser burdens of a criminal investigation — including preparing for questioning by criminal investigators — are time-consuming and distracting.”

Rudy Giuliani couldn’t have said it better, meaning senators have every reason to demand Kavanaugh promise, under oath, to recuse himself on any case involving the Trump inquiry.

As for Republican efforts to rush Kavanaugh through, the judge wrote in that law review article the Senate “should consider a rule ensuring that every judicial nominee receives a vote by the Senate within 180 days of being nominated by the president.”

It’s interesting that 180 days would take us well past November’s election. And according to the Kavanaugh Doctrine, Garland should have been given a vote. Senators should ask him about that, too.

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